Today after I warmed up my bowl of homemade pozole, watched multiple news reports and thought about the state of affairs in this world I just wanted a distraction for the day. Well what happened was I ended up spending the entire day overhauling my website; rearranging, editing, researching and beautifying my website...isn't that the best when you are productive by accident. In all of this rearranging and editing I decided to add a page on belly binding as it's something I offer in my Midwifery practice and think is a time honored tradition that has many benefits. So from the information that I compiled I thought it was worthy of my first blog post.
Now writing a blog is something I've been wanting to do for some time. Its one of those things thats been forever on my To-do list! That being said.. be gentle. I'm no writer but I do tend to talk a whole lot...it comes with the territory of being a Midwife and giving informed consent and empowering women to make the best decisions for their families.
So here ya go just a little bit about belly binding:
Belly binding has been around for hundred’s of years if not more, all around the world and across many cultures including: Latin American, Malaysian, Japanese, Native American and many more. Each culture has specific practices regarding "belly binding" and postpartum care in general. My first experiences with belly binding in the postpartum period was when I had the honor of working with Mexican moms at a birth center in the border town of San Diego. They taught me how to gently wrap the abdomen and pelvic area with a faja, to protect the womb.
The faja is believed to prevent air from entering inside the woman, to ensure the uterus from falling down and thought to help the uterus close and contract. There are many types and styles of material used to make a faja or belly wrap but I would say most common these days are cloth and mixed material i.e.; cotton and elastic. The ones that I was introduced to and have had great success with are much like a large ace bandage made of a mixture of cotton and elastic.
The faja is typically worn for at least 2 weeks postpartum, except at night.
In Latin American cultures, the position of the uterus is at the very core of traditional birth medicine. It was common and still is found that abdominal massage after the birth and wrapping are used not just to heal the muscle wall, but to actually help place the “womb” back in its proper position.
Traditionally, Malaysians believe that the womb is the center of a woman’s well being and that it is important to honor its role in all stages of life. However, the womb is especially honored after the birth of a child. In order to promote the health and healing of the womb in the postpartum period, Malaysian women are bound with cotton around their abdomen. We know this as Bengkung Belly Binding.
As a Midwife I have had first hand experience with the benefits of belly binding postpartum, in the immediate and beyond to protect the womb and abdominal area. Belly binding with a bandage is a gentle way of binding the new mother, which I prefer during the first weeks after birth. The bandage style is ideal for all mothers as it is breathable and has enough elasticity to stretch and bind the belly tight enough for desired benefits. It is also a good option for mothers who have delivered by cesarean birth as they have enough elasticity to stretch and bind the belly just tight or loose enough. They are gentle enough to protect the incision area and are thin enough to provide enough ventilation to protect from infection. Many moms who have given birth report that their belly feels squishy after several months of a taught firm belly and it feels a "little weird". Something that I hear almost every time I bind a mom is that it feels so "secure" and like it is holding everything together because it is firm.
So using a faja aka belly binding has many benefits such as relief from birth 'afterpains' (which typically become stronger with each child), encourages internal organs to migrate to their original place, corrects diastasis recti, reduces postpartum internal organ swelling and gives the mother a sense of security and togetherness.